Censorship

Facebook Has Every Right To Ban Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones. But It's Still a Bad Idea.

Even more worrying: New Zealand's leading media outlets are self-censoring coverage of the Christchurch mass shooting.

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Facebook announced yesterday that it was permanently banning Louis Farrahkhan, Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulis, Paul Nehlen, Laura Loomer, and Paul Joseph Watson from Facebook and its sister service, Instagram. Each of these accounts, the company says, violated Facebook's community standards governing "Dangerous Individuals and Organziations." Among other things, these

do not allow any organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence, from having a presence on Facebook. This includes organizations or individuals involved in the following:

  • Terrorist activity
  • Organized hate
  • Mass or serial murder
  • Human trafficking
  • Organized violence or criminal activity

We also remove content that expresses support or praise for groups, leaders, or individuals involved in these activities.

Yesterday's action was partly intended to combat a "loophole" that allowed Infowars and Jones, who had already been banned by the service, to keep appearing on it. Unofficial fan pages widely shared material from Infowars and Jones. As Wired explains, Facebook plans to stop them with a tool

usually reserved for terrorist organizations and self-proclaimed hate groups. The company says that users will be prohibited from sharing Infowars videos, radio clips, articles, and other content from the site unless they are explicitly condemning the material. Fan pages or groups that reshare Infowars content in a sincere or appreciative manner won't be permitted.

As a private platform, Facebook is completely within its legal rights to ban whomever it chooses for pretty much whatever reason it wants. But whether it's wise to start banning awful, stupid expression that falls short of true threats and other illegal activity is a very different matter. I'd argue that it's not, as it feeds into the tendency to try suppress beliefs that one considers contemptible, dangerous, or evil. Those are not sharply delimited categories, and the tendency will be for more and more material to be seen as worthy of being policed, regulated, and eliminated. That is what's happening on many college campuses, and the results are not encouraging for a society that believes in freedom of expression.

The better solution for social media platforms is to give users robust tools to filter and control content, and to foster an online culture that that is broadly tolerant of diverse viewpoints and conducive to new forms of media literacy. The promise of social media platforms, which are distinct from more traditional forms of publishing or distribution (such as an edited outlet such as Reason.com), are that they allow individuals not just to express ourselves almost effortlessly but to tailor our feeds to infinitely individualized tastes. We are losing some of the utopian potential of the internet every time a new clampdown on content or process takes place.

Facebook's action comes a broader context in which support for free expression is slipping on both governmental and private fronts. In the wake of the Christchurch mosque shooting in March, for instance, the New Zealand government banned not only certain types of guns but possession of the manifesto written by alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant and footage of his killing spree (which was livestreamed briefly on Facebook before being taken down). A 22-year-old man has been arrested for distributing video of the shooting and faces up to 14 years in jail. Even more worrying, writes Jack Shafer at Politico, New Zealand's five top media outlets have voluntarily agreed to censor their coverage of Tarrant's trial.

The news organizations vow to limit coverage of statements "that actively champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology," avoid quoting the accused killer's "manifesto," and suppress any "message, imagery, symbols" or hand signs like a Nazi salute made by the accused or his supporters in support of white supremacy. "Where the inclusion of such signals in any images is unavoidable, the relevant parts of the image shall be pixelated," the guidelines add.

Shafer argues that paternalism barely begins to describe what's going on here:

The Kiwi editors don't appear to trust their readers and viewers to handle the difficult and disturbing material that's sure to billow out of the Tarrant trial. They regard New Zealanders as children who must be sheltered from the heinous and despicable lest they become tainted with its influence. That's essentially the position New Zealand Chief Censor [David] Shanks took when he banned the manifesto in March, saying that documents like it were aimed at a "vulnerable and susceptible" audience and designed to incite them to perform similar crimes. "There is content in [the manifesto] that points to means by which you can conduct other terrorist atrocities…it could be seen as instructional," Shanks said.

Although the New Zealand media have promised to thoroughly cover the trial, Shafer is right to suspect that reporters will do a particularly good job "from a crouch." He's also correct to worry that "the journalistic groupthink encouraged by the pact could result in undercoverage of extremist movements and leave readers unnecessarily vulnerable."

Something similar is at work with Facebook's ban. The company seems worried that its users are impressionable people liable to be gulled into believing nonsense. It also probably just doesn't want to associated with offensive content of all kinds. But nobody should assume that Facebook supports, say, Alex Jones, just because they allow him to use their service, any more than whatever phone service he uses supports him because he makes calls on it.

We live in a moment when the tech giants themselves are explicitly calling for regulation, both to stave off certain forms of government intervention and to lock in current market positions. Politicians as different as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) are threatening to regulate online speech and to end to the internet as we've known it by gutting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. In Europe, copyright law is being marshaled to stifle the free exchange of ideas and content in order to protect legacy entertainment companies. Massively overhyped fears about the influence of Russian trolls during the 2016 election have given rise to story after story about how stupid Facebook users are, a prelude to empowering the very sort of gatekeepers we supposedly left behind when we migrated en masse into cyberspace in the mid-1990s. An era is passing away, not because of the foulness of online trolls but because of the institutional response they've inspired.

 

NEXT: That Time Bernie Sanders Interviewed Some Punk-Rock Kids in a Mall

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  1. The better solution for social media platforms is to give users robust tools to filter and control content

    They already have a mouse. If you’re offended by the shit you see on Facebook, well, why the hell did you click on it if not for the thrill of being offended? It’s like the little old lady calling the cops on the obscene things the neighbors are doing and when the responding cop tells her he doesn’t see anything going on she says, “Well, you have to climb up on the roof to get the right viewing angle and use these binoculars to see what’s going on.”

    1. Partially true, but Facebook does often serve spots that are liked or commented on by friends.

      That said, not in favor of the censorship as most of the organizations later don’t actually violate the terms. Hoping for lawsuits.

      1. What Facebook does urgently need to do, is ban, block, and eliminate any form of inappropriately deadpan “parody” from its platform. Casting a blind eye to offensive mockery does nothing to prevent it from being distributed to others. In taking this action, Facebook would merely be implementing what top state and federal courts have already said. See the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

        https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

        1. Here I thought *you* were satire.
          Turns out you’re a pathetic snow-flake hoping someone saves you from reading things you don’t like; there is no “criminal satire”, just whiny snow-flakes.
          Fuck off.

          1. On the contrary, I am pointing out that currently available legal protections need to be enforced and expanded through every means possible. An enormous strain was put on our system here in New York when we had to reach out to law enforcement officials to suppress, prevent, and punish the outrageous online mockery of one of our most distinguished faculty members. This criminally deceitful material was even being read by students, and the courts agreed with us that it did not convey an appropriate idea and could thus be punished with jail. Fortunately we had special connections that enabled us to proceed to the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator, but not everyone is so lucky.

        2. I imagine you feel the same way about Well’s War of the Worlds broadcast that had folks believing were being invaded by squishy aliens from Mars whose immune systems couldn’t process a cold virus.

          1. Exposing innocent people to danger on the radio certainly musn’t be considered “free speech,” but I’m not aware that any academic reputations were harmed.

    2. The proposition opposing the censorship here is that although the speech being banned is awful and stupid, the expression falls short of true threats and other illegal activity and is therefore a very different matter. The rationale is that any speech short of what is threatening or illegal, presumably including defamation, child porn, false advertising, etc., should be permitted, even on private platforms that can reject such speech, because such banning tends to “suppress beliefs that one considers contemptible, dangerous, or evil.” On the other hand, Facebook’s concern is that its users are impressionable people liable to be gulled into believing nonsense.

      After reading and thinking about “nonsense” speech in politics, i.e., lies, deceit, unwarranted opacity (hiding relevant, usually contrary facts), unwarranted emotional manipulation (fomenting unwarranted fear, hate, anger, intolerance, distrust, bigotry of all kinds, intimidation, etc.) one can make a powerful history- fact- and logic-based argument that social media sites should be far more aggressive in banning nonsense to the extent it can be identified and shut down. What could possibly justify that belief?

      That belief is powerfully justified by history and current events in American politics. History makes it clear that the main contest in politics is about the distribution of wealth, power and freedom between the masses and a small population of usually wealthy ruling and business elites. The underlying government could be capitalist, socialist, monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy or whatever else, but the fundamental contest is usually the same with few or no exceptions. The top takes as much wealth, power and freedom from the bottom as it can get away with, while sustaining the unequal status quo. All or nearly all of the authoritarian regimes in at least the last 4-5 centuries did that. Until the last 70 years or so, authoritarianism was the normal state of human affairs, at least in Western politics and societies. That is a matter of fact in human history, not unhinged conspiracy theory.

      How did those unequal societies arise, with the elites hoarding most of the power, wealth and freedom? To a large extent, the rise and maintenance of authoritarian systems relied on nonsense speech. In her 1951 masterpiece on human political savagery in the 19th and 20th centuries, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt made it clear that nonsense speech was a critical tool in the rise of the tyrant and the ongoing economic rape and social oppression of the masses. If one looks at what is happening in America today, the rising radical libertarian-conservative authoritarianism pioneered and still heavily funded by the Koch brothers and a group of like-minded millionaires and billionaires is relying heavily on nonsense speech to neuter the federal government and civil rights in an effort to re-establish state government dominance over the masses. That movement hates collective action by the masses. It applies propaganda in false appeals to individualism as the route to personal freedom to cover the fact that the goal is not personal freedom but a shift in power, wealth and freedom from the masses to the elites. The only way to do that is to rely heavily on nonsense speech.

      If that is seen as unhinged conspiracy theory, there is plenty of evidence that it is not conspiracy, but political reality. Historian Nancy MacLean’s 2017 book, Democracy In Chains and journalist Jane Meyer in her 2016 book, Dark Money, both make the power of nonsense speech in modern American politics crystal clear. Historian Timothy Snyder’s 2017 book, On Tyranny, analyzes the tyrannies of the 20th century and points directly to the power of nonsense speech. Snyder comments: “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, no one can criticise power, because there is no basis on which to do so. . . . . Post-truth is pre-fascism.”

      Then, when one considers modern cognitive and social science, one can see the raw destructive power of nonsense speech in the hands of authoritarians through a lens of biology and human behavior. The evidence that nonsense speech can and does bring democracies down is rock solid and undeniable. The evidence that it is being used right now to bring American democracy down is also rock solid and undeniable. When viewed that way, what Facebook and others are doing in their feeble, tentative way can be argued to be far too little and maybe too late.

      1. LOL

        The libertarians and conservatives are the ones using lies huh… What about all of the objectively untrue things leftists spew out of their mouths all the time??? I would argue that the lies the left wing tells are far more dangerous to freedom and the regular guy than anything some So-Con ever says.

        So are you okay with banning leftists who tell likes like that raising the minimum wage doesn’t destroy jobs? Or that we can somehow tax the rich to pay for free everything, when taking 100% of the assets of every billionaire in the country wouldn’t fund our CURRENT government for a single year?

        GTFO with this nonsense.

  2. Socialists by definition, heck, all statists, not only condone violence, they glory in it, because that’s all States are — monopolies on violence.

    Socialists just carry it a bit further, wanting the state to steal far more than the run-of-the-mill statists.

    Then you’ve got Marxians, the full-blown extremists of the bunch, who killed 100M people last century.

    I’ll have a lot more faith in facebook’s impartiality when they start banning actual self-declared Marxians and Communists.

    1. And I am serious. This disparity really pisses me off. Some schmuck posts a video of his dog responding to “Heil Hitler” with a Nazi salute and gets hauled to court. Yet praise Che, Castro, Mao, Stalin — wear their face on your t-shirt — you get a job teaching kids.

      It’s fucked up.

      1. it is.

      2. I’ve had arguments with many leftists that absolutely anything the government does is backed up by the threat of violence, and that is a huge argument for limiting government as much as humanly possible. I inevitably get the poorly thought argument asking me when the last time the IRS or a regulatory agency shot somebody. I reply that although that doesn’t happen often (although I’m sure it has happened and they’ve jailed many), that’s as stupid as saying a common criminal holding someone up at gunpoint demanding their wallet is nonviolent because the victim surrendered their wallet and thus didn’t get shot. Point is any flavor of leftist’s definition of violence is never thought all the way through, applied to introspection and is largely hypocritical.

        1. Would you rather live as a mindless slave or die free? Without the ability to examine issues, problems and face life happenings utilizing access to unfiltered information we cannot think critically. In turn we cannot be free. These tech giants are free to limit access to their platforms but lets be honest they are simply tools of the Statists. It is easy to imagine a world described in Orwell’s 1984. Perpetual war, streaming government propaganda, and of course surveillance? Hell it is already here.

      3. Count Dankula is not only not a Nazi, but is now making Freedom of Expression his platform while running for Member of European Parliament.
        A great sense of humor and a bold individual. Check him out.

    2. Or just starting with Antifa?

      1. I’ll accept Facebook’s decision to permanently ban the people/groups that have been kicked out when Facebook does the same to BLM and Antifa.

        1. Luckily no one is forcing you to use facebook

          1. “Luckily no one is forcing you to use a phone company, utility service, bank or internet provider”
            What a great argument. Once the real deplatforming starts I’m sure it’s going to get a lot of mileage.

            Has anyone else noticed that all the lefties here seem to think that it’s never going to happen to them?

            1. We’ve seen social media AND banks mobilized to attack Alex Jones.

              This is OK? Why, because they’re “private enterprise” that is only colluding to utterly fuck one guy over?

              I work for a telecom company. If we decided to not only cut off your calls because we didn’t like what you said but ALSO worked with OTHER telecoms to do the same — Reason would say it’s a bad idea but shouldn’t be stopped? This was done to Alex Jones in regards to social media, so this is not exactly a far-fetched example. And, rest assured, you will eventually have these activists demand AT&T, Sprint, etc demand that they stop allowing “white supremacists” and “merchants of hate” from using their service to pursue their goals.

              Private enterprise is preferrable to government. But FFS, it’s not a damned utopia.

            2. Laura Loomer appears to have been banned from everything, even Uber and Lyft. How does that make sense?

              1. @Benitacanova
                It’s pretty simple, actually.

                Long story short, she posted:

                “Someone needs to create a non Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver […]”

                and then Uber/Lyft said “deal” and banned her.

            3. I read in the Atlantic that students at Connecticut College want Camille Paglia banned from the University. A post she has held for over 30 years, I don’t read her works but I have heard her speak and while provocative she offers a thoughtful alternative view point. Now sadly it is hate speech. They have claimed her ideas to be dangerous. How can ideas be dangerous in and of by themselves? The Washington Post, the columnist Nat Hentoff argued for Paglia“What is more dangerous––to talk about ideas in the open, or to pretend they do not exist?”

          2. Yes but the alternatives are doing the same. So the choice is really no social media.

    3. All violence is equal.
      But some violence is more equal than others.

    4. The double standard is indeed the worst part… And what shows their true intent.

      If they really gave a shit about any of the principles they claim to, they would be banning outright communists, ANTIFA, etc. But they don’t. This is simply leftists in positions of power abusing that power to serve ends they desire. Anybody who can’t see that is a fool.

      And frankly, things have got so bad I think defending their right as private companies to do this shit is basically at the point of being “A capitalist selling the rope to hang himself with to a communist.”

  3. This includes organizations or individuals involved in…Organized Hate

    Man, that must be a blow to all those radical leftist groups.

    1. Liberals often times talk down to minority groups, a form of hatred and hate thoughts about their intelligence. Ban them all.

    2. “Facebook plans to stop them with a tool usually reserved for terrorist organizations and self-proclaimed hate groups.”
      Who the fuck is going to proclaim itself a hate group?
      Clearly, FaceCrack is deciding that the content is “self-proclaimed hate” – any guesses, which side of the political spectrum, groups FaceCrack more often thinks so self-proclaim?
      Libertarians, who think “public accommodation” laws should apply to everyone, if they are going to have meaning, should decry this denial of service.

      1. Libertarians regularly complain about public accommodation laws applying to any non-government actor. I don’t think that carries over here like you think it does.

    3. I am still trying to figure what is the moral difference between organized and disorganized hate. What qualifies as organized hate? A 501 4c on file?

  4. The government has too many ways to reward friends and punish enemies for me to bother with ‘it is a private company’. Too many vague threats to “do something” that these companies would want to placate.

  5. It’s not just a “bad idea” Nick, it’s wrong. In order to act truly ethically you have to have the right to do something, it has to be the right thing to do, and you have to go about it in the right way. The ban fails on these last two points. For example, Matt Walsh wrote “It seems libelous for a company as powerful as Facebook to publicly label people “violent” and “hateful” and “dangerous” without justification or explanation. Being erroneously labeled that way by a corporation like Facebook can have a very real effect on your life.” It might not rise to the level of actionable libel or slander but ethically it is. And a “one fell swoop” ban is not the right way to go about dealing with individual accounts.

    1. In some jurisdictions, it is actionable libel. Watch Paul Joseph Watson in the UK.

    2. Isn’t that the problem with the entire classification system of “hate groups” and “hate speech” it is purely subjective and therefore dangerous. The problem’s genesis was the whole BS behind hate crime legislation.

  6. As Wired explains, Facebook plans to stop them with a tool. That tool is Herschel Abromowitz, and Black Studies major at Columbia University.

  7. “Organized hate”

    The democrats?

  8. “”Something similar is at work with Facebook’s ban. The company seems worried that its users are impressionable people liable to be gulled into believing nonsense. It also probably just doesn’t want to associated with offensive content of all kinds.”‘

    Probably more about how to meet the censorship required by authoritarian countries where they have a presence and a way to avoid fines from European countries.

  9. “Organized violence”

    So, they are going to kick the DOD, FBI, and every PD in the country off FB?

  10. A little late but whatever it takes to get Hillary president I’m onboard.

    1. That’s GOOD!

    2. Ha..ha..hahaha

  11. An era is passing away, not because of the foulness of online trolls but because of the institutional response they’ve inspired.

    Jesus fucking Christ.

    100 years ago, U.S. citizens went to jail for protesting U.S. involvement in WWI. “Sedition.”

    We have never, EVER, in the history of our species, been freer to express ourselves, far and wide, than we are TODAY in the U.S.

    1. We have never, EVER, in the history of our species, been freer to express ourselves, far and wide, than we are TODAY in the U.S.

      Yes, but we’ve got Top Men working on correcting that problem.

    2. Yesterday, we were freer.

  12. Censoring Paul Joseph Watson isn’t a “bad idea,” it’s a violation of everything libertarians are supposed to stand for.

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google are creations of state grants of exemption in the form of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Without that, they would have been strangled in their cribs. I know, because we at Wired fought for that exemption. Because, we argued at the time, we who were building the Internet were akin to common carriers, or the post office. Common carriers can’t be held liable for the content of calls placed on their network, and the post office can’t censor the content of letters.

    Flash forward, and the social media companies have become oligopolies on the back of that exemption. And now they want to censor the space that they have squatted.

    That space is the public space in our society. Almost all of it. Back in the day, we could never have foreseen that these companies would accrue this amount of power. Indeed, these three didn’t even exist. But here we are.

    You can be banned from these platforms for wrongthink. And you can even be banned for favorably quoting He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named on Facebook. Actually, you can even be banned for saying something nice about PrisonPlanet off Facebook. You can even be banned for appearing at a public event where Paul Joseph Watson happens to be.

    What’s going on is profoundly wrong. You absolutely need to stop excusing this illiberal exercise of government granted power over the public mind because somehow these are “private companies.” Private companies have no right to violate the civil rights of Americans. They can’t discriminate against citizens on a whole range of criteria — and that should include beyond their skin color and gender and who they love — to what they think.

    Because otherwise, you are, in effect, endorsing a “free market” social credit system for the United States. And that is not just wrong, it is immoral. Evil. You know as well as I do that the blacklists being created by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Poynter and others are being used not just to stifle public discourse on their plaforms. They are being used to deny people webhosting. And to deny people credit card clearing. Even banking. The Red Brigade social control happening on campuses is now infiltrating all aspects of the public space. And Facebook’s purge yesterday is another brick in that wall.

    Libertarians need a reboot. At the moment, you guys are looking like apologists for the Koch Brothers and the social media monopolists. You need to get back to roots. It’s in your name. Liberty. Liberty is not asking the permission of Mark Zuckerberg to speak.

    And make no mistake. It all starts with speech. Why it’s the first amendment.

    1. You don’t need Mark Zuckerberg’s permission to speak. But Facebook can, and should, decline to associate with loathsome people. There are plenty of other opportunities for wide expression. And plenty of opportunities to create even more opportunities, especially if one perceives a problem involving the current opportunities.

      1. If Zuckerberg wants to censor his platform he should do it fully accepting the definition of publisher, and be subject to the libel and copyright burdens that entails. Instead, he wants the government’s protection while he sanitizes his platform to continue making money from his advertising clients. There’s a reason that Section 230 was put into the CDA — to encourage the creation of a free internet. Not to guarantee that Zuckerberg becomes and stays a zillionaire.

        1. THIS. You’re either a publisher, or a platform. You can’t be both, and only when it suits you and your political/moral goals.

      2. I can hardly wait till your bank, phone and power company ban you because of your views.

      3. “decline to associate with loathsome people.”

        Define loathesome. I find the liberals and Hilary-lovers and borderline socialists on Facebook to be loathesome. I think what you really mean is : “wrongthink”

        1. In this context “loathesome” means whatever Facebook wants it to mean.

          Y’all love to champion Freedom of Association right up until you think it affects you.

      4. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland
        May.3.2019 at 5:19 pm
        “You don’t need Mark Zuckerberg’s permission to speak. But Facebook can, and should, decline to associate with loathsome people.”

        Are you banned? If not, you remain a bigoted asshole, but we can now add “hypocrite” to your honorifics, asshole.

      5. Exactly. You have the right to demonstrate what a retarded knuckle dragging tool you are and we in turn exercise our right to recommend you blowing your pea sized brain out with a .45. It’s pretty simple.

        1. Watching you be replaced will be great fun, Jack.

          1. “Watching you be replaced will be great fun, Jack”

            What does that even mean?
            Is it like invasion of the body snatchers, where a pod-clone is grown and takes over his life – as husband, father, friend, employee, Reason poster, etc?
            I guess that makes sense – progressives aren’t people, they’re a hive mind.

          2. Kill yourself now and improve the gene pool exponentially, you retarded inbred hick. Seriously. Shove a fucking .45 in your mouth and pull the trigger and splatter your half gram of gray matter all over your mom’s basement, you useless twat.

    2. I’ve said it before: When a private company decides to act like a censor because the government threatened to harm the company if it didn’t, that is as much a threat to free speech as direct government censorship would be.

      1. It is, but it’s still not terribly clear what should or can be done about it.
        The social media space really needs more competition, but I’m not sure how to make that happen.

        1. You can start by removing their 230 exemption, and leave them naked with the same legal exposure as any other publisher. See how they like being liable for every libel and copyright infringement on their platform.

          Then you can dismantle them. Why should Facebook have Instagram and WhatsApp? Or Google YouTube? These companies are the very definition of predatory monopolies.

          And finally, you can force them to pay for the content they exploit for free from their users. ASCAP exists to force users to pay for creators’ material. There should be an ASCAP for creators against these monopolists.

          But this is getting the state involved in their businesses, I can hear “libertarians” object. But their businesses wouldn’t exist without the state’s blessing. And every single one of these companies are staffed from top to bottom with people who buy into the righteous benevolence of the state — as long as it isn’t touching their sacred businesses. Well, it’s time they live by what they inflict on others.

          And if their business models become no longer viable, if they go down, so be it. Their time has passed. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

        2. It’s pretty easy to make it happen. Encourage social media companies to self-censor more.

          Why did 4Chan happen? Because Poole was dissatisfied with other online forums. Why did 8Chan happen? Because I-don’t-know-who was dissatisfied with 4Chan.

          So what will get some real competition to Facebook? When it stops being the overwhelming choice for folks, aka, when it self-censors so much it pushes a significant share of it’s user-base to a competitor.

          1. The problem is in the here and now… Without Twitter and Facebook, Trump would have lost. The mainstream media was in the tank for Hillary, and it was largely people posting shit back and forth that even got his screw ball message out there.

            When one or two companies can swing an election for the most powerful nation on earth… And they show clear political bias… And especially since it’s in the wrong direction… This worries me.

      2. Also to be fair, they are mostly reacting to users and advertisers. They are begging for government control of their content so they can be simultaneously blameless and hard to compete with.

        1. No they’re not. They’re mostly reacting to their own shit lib beliefs. HALF the country is to the right of center… So why are they censoring the shit out of almost exclusively right wing folks? It doesn’t make sense. Every person they make happy on the left, it’s going to piss off one or more people on the right. It’s not their bottom line, it’s their ideology driving this all.

    3. Louis Rossetto, I was going to log in to comment until I read your comments all the way through. Your commentary absolutely pounded the issues. Well said sir.

    4. And these same dolts who think this isn’t too bad are foolish to assume that these same activists won’t attack ACTUAL common carriers.
      “Hey, Mr AT&T flunkie — did you know that David Duke used your service? Why do you allow that? Don’t you have an obligation to society?”
      Does anybody think this WON’T happen? It’s only happened with every other fucking institution in the country so far.

    5. Arguing for “freedom of association” all the time for private entities (e.g. a baker can refuse service to gay people they don’t like) then complaining when a private company refuses to offer service is hypocritical. Unless, of course, you are going to admit that these platforms are public utilities rather than private companies.

  13. I don’t think these tech dorks realize that, eventually, they’re going to leave the wrong people with nothing left to lose and are going to get sporked in the eye as a result.

    1. Big-talk, all-talk right-wing whiners are among my favorite faux libertarians.

      1. Terrorists or whiners, hicklib? Make up your mind.

      2. You should have your retarded face beaten repeatedly with a 2×4.

    2. If the “wrong people” would commit actual acts of violence because they got kicked off FaceBook, they’re kind of proving that FaceBook is right to ban them in the first place.

      1. It’s not just getting kicked off facebook… It’s that the entire “system” is trying to completely un-person half the fucking country. And if that shit goes too far, yeah, people are gonna be pissed. Kicked off social media, can’t find a bank to work with you, you lose your job, your house gets mobbed, etc… This is all shit they’re doing right now. That’s the kind of shit that tends to push people over the edge.

  14. Never joined Facebook.

    1. I just signed you up.

  15. […] friend Nick Gillespie of Reason urges the social media platforms to develop a set of filtering tools that will allow users to block […]

  16. AT&T and Potomac Electric Has Every Right To Reason and the Washington Post. But It’s Still a Bad Idea.

    1. “Right To Reason”
      Right To Ban Reason

  17. […] friend Nick Gillespie of Reason urges the social media platforms to develop a set of filtering tools that will allow users to block […]

  18. […] friend Nick Gillespie of Reason urges the social media platforms to develop a set of filtering tools that will allow users to block […]

  19. And here I was thinking private companies have no power over people.

  20. Facebook and Youtube should only be banning people who are actually breaking existing laws. There is no such thing as ‘hate speech’. This is just another term for speech which offends ‘somebody’.
    Who gets to determine what is offensive. The answer is simple and has already been stated by others.
    If you don’t like what someone is saying, then don’t listen or don’t read. It is not rocket science

  21. Community communication websites are by definition public, not private, places.

    Here are two definitions of public.

    1. Of, concerning, or affecting the community or the people:
    2. Maintained for or used by the people or community:

    As public places, they cannot be allowed to violate our rights.

    Suck it up princess, if you want to operate here you need to conform to the rules of the land. If we let you violate our rights, we deserve the shithole we create.

  22. Alex Jones wept.

  23. The company says that users will be prohibited from sharing Infowars videos, radio clips, articles, and other content from the site unless they are explicitly condemning the material.

    Allowing only condemenation of the material seems way creepier than just out right banning it.

    1. Out of curiosity — how does demanding specific commentary from posters NOT make them publishers instead of common carriers?

      1. A newspaper gets two “letters to the editor”. One saying libertarians rock, the other saying libertarians suck.

        The newspaper is fully within it’s rights to only publish one, and memory-hole the other.

        This is no different.

  24. Knowledge is power.

    By allowing someone to control the narrative you condone putting the power in their hands.

    For a supposedly libertarian community there sure are a lot of fascism apologists here.

    1. Eh, in any comment section usually only about 3-4, who play the same contrarian role in every thread.

      1. It only takes one fact contrary to a delusion to cause problems.

      2. I think Rob might have been referring to the overabundance of writers who appear to be okay with the endless waves of de-platforming.

        1. Yeah, newspeak, whatever.

          Whenever speech is censored, someone wants to control the narrative.

          That’s when the problems begin.

    2. It’s all about the means of production.
      In the industrial age, that meant factories, mines, etc.

      We are now in the information age.
      Means of production: media, schools, “culture” and “values”

  25. If corporations start censoring media to hide the speeches of White terrorists, they will have to decide once and for all if this guy is White.

    1. Who cares.

      He lied and Abbas has stated that the Palestinian State, clearly a goal he has not pursued will have no Jews.

      Netanyahu has offered that. Living together. It is further from that now.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=G8CUFSHB114

      Sad really. Gaza is more a mess than ever. The West Bank PA has no leadership capable of finding a solution. Hundreds of rockets in the past 24 hrs from Gaza.

      Just imagine if the US had Hamas over the border doing this. There would be no Gaza and no PA.

  26. thanks for this information also check out Top 5 Best Earphones Under 500 In 2019

  27. How can I make Nick understand that providing Alex Jones a platform from which to push a christianofascist agenda while pretending to kinda sorta tolerate the LP is “a magnitude of order” worse than avoiding the pathetic impostor?

  28. This place is hell with no ad-blocking. Thanks a lot, Firefox. How’s that fix going? Oh, and

    But Hillary!

    1. The tr[ck is to click on ads that you like, then you get more of the same type. Thus, most of the ads that I get are young women in underwear.

  29. […] Even more worrying: New Zealand’s leading media outlets are self-censoring coverage of the Christchurch mass shooting. — Read on reason.com/2019/05/03/facebook-has-every-right-to-ban-louis-farrakhan-and-alex-jones-but-its-still-a… […]

  30. Twitter just banned James Woods.
    And James Woods is the video word made flesh.
    They play with fire.

    1. That’s because Dorsey is lying punk.

  31. Banning that piece of shit Alex Jones was long overdue.

  32. “do not allow any organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence, from having a presence on Facebook. This includes organizations or individuals involved in the following:”

    … successfully opposing Leftist power.

  33. There is an argument that what Facebook is doing by banning Jones and others is more beneficial than harmful.

    This article’s proposition opposing the censorship is that although the speech being banned is awful and stupid, the expression falls short of true threats and other illegal activity and is therefore a very different matter. The rationale is that any speech short of what is threatening or illegal, presumably including defamation, child porn, false advertising, etc., should be permitted, even on private platforms that can reject such speech, because such banning tends to “suppress beliefs that one considers contemptible, dangerous, or evil.” On the other hand, Facebook’s concern is that its users are impressionable people liable to be gulled into believing nonsense.

    After reading and thinking about “nonsense” speech in politics, i.e., lies, deceit, unwarranted opacity (hiding relevant, usually contrary facts), unwarranted emotional manipulation (fomenting unwarranted fear, hate, anger, intolerance, distrust, bigotry of all kinds, intimidation, etc.) one can make a powerful history- fact- and logic-based argument that social media sites should be far more aggressive in banning nonsense to the extent it can be identified and shut down. What could possibly justify that belief?

    That belief is powerfully justified by history and current events in American politics. History makes it clear that the main contest in politics is about the distribution of wealth, power and freedom between the masses and a small population of usually wealthy ruling and business elites. The underlying government could be capitalist, socialist, monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy or whatever else, but the fundamental contest is usually the same with few or no exceptions. The top takes as much wealth, power and freedom from the bottom as it can get away with, while sustaining the unequal status quo. All or nearly all of the authoritarian regimes in at least the last 4-5 centuries did that. Until the last 70 years or so, authoritarianism was the normal state of human affairs, at least in Western politics and societies. That is a matter of fact in human history, not unhinged conspiracy theory.

    How did those unequal societies arise, with the elites hoarding most of the power, wealth and freedom? To a large extent, the rise and maintenance of authoritarian systems relied on nonsense speech. In her 1951 masterpiece on human political savagery in the 19th and 20th centuries, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt made it clear that nonsense speech was a critical tool in the rise of the tyrant and the ongoing economic rape and social oppression of the masses. If one looks at what is happening in America today, the rising radical libertarian-conservative authoritarianism pioneered and still heavily funded by the Koch brothers and a group of like-minded millionaires and billionaires is relying heavily on nonsense speech to neuter the federal government and civil rights in an effort to re-establish state government dominance over the masses. That movement hates collective action by the masses. It applies propaganda in false appeals to individualism as the route to personal freedom to cover the fact that the goal is not personal freedom but a shift in power, wealth and freedom from the masses to the elites. The only way to do that is to rely heavily on nonsense speech.

    If that is seen as unhinged conspiracy theory, there is plenty of evidence that it is not conspiracy, but political reality. Historian Nancy MacLean’s 2017 book, Democracy In Chains and journalist Jane Meyer in her 2016 book, Dark Money, both make the power of nonsense speech in modern American politics crystal clear. Historian Timothy Snyder’s 2017 book, On Tyranny, analyzes the tyrannies of the 20th century and points directly to the power of nonsense speech. Snyder comments: “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, no one can criticise power, because there is no basis on which to do so. . . . . Post-truth is pre-fascism.”

    Then, when one considers modern cognitive and social science, one can see the raw destructive power of nonsense speech in the hands of authoritarians through a lens of biology and human behavior. The evidence that nonsense speech can and does bring democracies down is rock solid and undeniable. The evidence that it is being used right now to bring American democracy down is also rock solid and undeniable. When viewed that way, what Facebook and others are doing in their feeble, tentative way can be argued to be far too little and maybe too late.

    1. It is ironic that for the first time in earths history we have the technology for all peoples to communicate instantly and we don’t value truth.

      All it takes to expose the most carefully planned lie or conspiracy is the sharing of even one contradictory fact. That’s it. The truth is precious, free and belongs to us all.

      Our mass delusions have always been based on carefully planned lies, and all those who benefit from manipulating us must control the narrative.

      This is what is really at stake when free speech is threatened. The lie is that it’s about snowflakes being offended.

  34. […] Something similar is at work with Facebook’s ban. The company seems worried that its users are impressionable people liable to be gulled into believing nonsense. It also probably just doesn’t want to associated with offensive content of all kinds. But nobody should assume that Facebook supports, say, Alex Jones, just because they allow him to use their service, any more than whatever phone service he uses supports him because he makes calls on it. Read More > at Reason […]

  35. Islam is not a religion of peace and commits the majority of terrorist acts.

    Facebook: Homer scream.

  36. Who’s the terrorist?

    How many allied armies are marching on Arab lands right now?

    Versus how many Arab armies are marching on allied lands?

  37. […] Gillespie iz Reasona tvrdi da takvi potezi “unose tendenciju pokušaja potiskivanja uvjerenja koja se smatraju […]

  38. What I don’t get about the hysterical calls for regulation is that it’s not like Facebook exists in perpetuity. We literally saw within a few years how MySpace lost most of its userbase to tough competition even though it was the so called “public square” that pro-Facebook regulation proponents claim needs to be regulated. What people don’t get is that if Facebook continues its dangerous and unpopular policies, it will not exist a decade from now. It could lose its userbase tomorrow depending on how strong new competitors are. There’s no sense in regulating what is effectively a private forum because they’re a dime a dozen and they do not have the physical, timeless qualities of an actual town square or publicly owned space. This should be obvious; these are private companies, but sometimes the obvious must be stated.

    1. Here’s the question: If it doesn’t last forever… But their manipulation of communication swings dozens of elections for leftists… Is that shit acceptable???

      Is tyranny acceptable because it MAY have a limited time frame attached? Like if you ONLY kidnap and rape somebody for a month, and then let them go, it’s cool?

      Not to mention that it is entirely possible that Facebook will still be the big communication platform 100 years from now for all we know. But even if not, how long should we tolerate such blatant meddling? Facebook and Google have FAR more power to swing elections than the Russians do, and look at all the freaking out people did about that.

  39. […] Nick Gillespie argues that such moves “feeds into the tendency to try suppress beliefs that one considers […]

  40. But nobody should assume that Facebook supports, say, Alex Jones, just because they allow him to use their service,

    Didn’t Reason perma-ban someone recently because it didn’t want to be associated with his child-porn?

    We all get to set our line for association. Some folks don’t want to be associated with child-porn afficianados. Some folks don’t want to be associated with pederastry afficianados. Some folks don’t want to be associated with people who accused the parents of dead grade-school children of faking a mass murder for attention and then doxed those same parents.

    Face it, internet users have shown that no, you really can’t have a place that’s home to everyone. Even 4Chan eventually kicked folks to the curb (which is why we now have 8Chan). The sooner you accept this and stop getting upset that Facebook thinks you’re gross, the sooner you’ll find a place that doesn’t.

    1. Every libertarian experiment (usually confined to the internet for understandable reasons) evolves into a complex bureaucracy.

  41. […] has been the worst reaction to Facebook’s decision last week to permanently ban Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulis, Louis Farrakhan, and others for their […]

  42. […] has been the worst reaction to Facebook’s decision last week to permanently ban Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulis, Louis Farrakhan, and others for their […]

  43. […] has been the worst reaction to Facebook’s decision last week to permanently ban Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulis, Louis Farrakhan, and others for their […]

  44. […] has been the worst reaction to Facebook’s decision last week to permanently ban Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulis, Louis Farrakhan, and others for their […]

  45. 15 years from now:

    “How the hell did these commies take such complete power so quickly? And it’s like nobody even spoke out about any of this shit! It sure does suck living in a communist dictatorship…”

    That’s about the size of it. I don’t think people really seem to get that we’re pretty much on war footing here. The leftists really have a lot of stuff on their side, like having taken over basically every institution in the entire western world. The media. Now they have all the tech platforms. Even banking and payment processing is in the tank.

    At some point you can’t keep playing the “we’ll take the high road” game and expecting to not get your teeth kicked in. I don’t WANT to have to do anything about these tech companies… But they’ve proven themselves to be so dangerous to freedom, I don’t know that we can not.

    Facebook or Google has 1,000 times the power to swing an election compared to the Russians. The MSM still has some juice too.

    Can you imagine a world where the MSM and big tech were simply objective… What would election results look like then? I suspect a lot more libertarian leaning folks would actually get heard, and people would like what they heard, it’s not like it would just help typical conservatives… But it definitely hurts everybody who isn’t a leftist.

    If they keep ramping this stuff up, and we end up with President Nutballs McSocialist in a few years because of tech manipulation… Will that be better than coming down on these dicks and forcing neutrality? I think not. The high road is not always the victorious road to take, and with how dicey things are for freedom right now, I don’t know that we should be taking chances.

  46. […] has been the worst reaction to Facebook’s decision last week to permanently ban Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulis, Louis Farrakhan, and others for their […]

  47. […] timely. Everyone hates Facebook these days, for one reason or another. (I’m pissed at its recent decision to ban such idiots as Louis Farrahkhan and Alex Jones of Infowars.) Conservative Republicans and […]

  48. […] timely. Everyone hates Facebook these days, for one reason or another. (I’m pissed at its recent decision to ban such idiots as Louis Farrahkhan and Alex Jones of Infowars.) Conservative Republicans and […]

  49. […] timely. Everyone hates Facebook these days, for one reason or another. (I’m pissed at its recent decision to ban such idiots as Louis Farrahkhan and Alex Jones of Infowars.) Conservative Republicans and […]

  50. […] Reason” data-reactid=”38″ type=”text”>”We are losing some of the utopian potential of the internet every time a new clampdown on content or process takes place.” — Nick Gillespie, Reason […]

  51. […] by the recent permanent bans at Facebook leveled against Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones, the signers of the Christchurch Call effectively […]

  52. […] to rig markets (lord knows this is happening big time in the tech and social media sectors as we speak). Donald Trump’s trade war with China points to more problems. We always need more creative […]

  53. […] to rig markets (lord knows this is happening big time in the tech and social media sectors as we speak). Donald Trump’s trade war with China points to more problems. We always need more creative […]

  54. […] to rig markets (lord knows this is happening big time in the tech and social media sectors as we speak). Donald Trump’s trade war with China points to more problems. We always need more creative […]

  55. […] to rig markets (lord knows this is happening big time in the tech and social media sectors as we speak). Donald Trump’s trade war with China points to more problems. We always need more creative […]

  56. […] to rig markets (lord knows this is happening big time in the tech and social media sectors as we speak). Donald Trump’s trade war with China points to more problems. We always need more creative […]

  57. […] all the the talk of arbitrary, capricious, or ideologically motivated deplatforming of people, publications, and groups by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms, there’s been less discussion […]

  58. […] all the the talk of arbitrary, capricious, or ideologically motivated deplatforming of people, publications, and groups by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms, there’s been less discussion […]

  59. […] all the the talk of arbitrary, capricious, or ideologically motivated deplatforming of people, publications, and groups by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms, there’s been less discussion […]

  60. […] all the the talk of arbitrary, capricious, or ideologically motivated deplatforming of people, publications, and groups by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms, there’s been less discussion […]

  61. […] Reason” data-reactid=”40″ type=”text”>”We are losing some of the utopian potential of the internet every time a new clampdown on content or process takes place.” — Nick Gillespie, Reason […]

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